Politics, language, and gender in the Algerian Arabic novel


    • Cox, Debbie


Politics, language, and gender in the Algerian Arabic novel

Debbie Cox

Edwin Mellen Press, c2002

大学図書館所蔵 件 / 1



Bibliography: p. 255-269

Includes index



This book examines the development of the Arabic novel in post-independence Algeria. It focuses on novels by Tahar Wattar, Abdelhamid Benhadouga, and Rachid Boudjedra, between 1972 and 1988, considering the possibilities for critical expression within the state, which emerged from colonial rule and anti-colonial struggle. When I first read al-Tahir Wattar's novels, The Earthquake and A Mule's Wedding, in the 1980s, I realised that this was a unique voice in the Arabic language. Although these were primarily allegorical novels with a deep vein of satire, they gave me what I felt to be an insight into Algerian society and psychology which was not apparent in books of social and political analysis. They were also unique in what seemed to an Eastern Arab to be an eccentric and ironic use of language. I was, therefore, excited when subsequently meeting Debbie Cox and learning that she was writing a thesis on Wattar among other Algerian writers in Arabic. Eventually I read this thesis carefully as External Examiner, and had the pleasure of discussing it with the author as well as an eminent and erudite French colleague, Jean-Claude Vatin, at the viva. The thesis was a brilliant success, and so is the book. This book regales the reader with analyses and insights into Algerian culture, politics and society in the recent history of that country. But its implications go further than Algeria: it illustrates the dilemma of Arab leftist intellectuals in relation to the post-colonial state appropriating the national project and itself colonizing all aspects of culture and society. Critiques of corruption and tyranny are tempered by regard for that national project which the state had appropriated. The authoritarianism and pomposity of the state discourse can be subverted and satirized only so far, without being open to accusations of complicity in reaction, and threatened with suppression and banishment. And when the state gives up its socialism and associated rhetoric, the leftist intellectual is left exposed and isolated, with dented credibility. This is precisely the complex that facilitated the success of the Islamic critique, seemingly uncontaminated by the state discourse, whether of socialism or of capitalist 'opening'. The Algerian situation is complicated by the language issue, which is central to this book. Arabic and Arabization are symbolic issues of ideological and political contestation. As the book shows, the association of Arabic with conservative and religious discourses makes its adoption as the medium of writing by leftist and modernist, even experimental, writers problematic: they miss their natural audience who are predominantly Francophone, and face special problems of writing for an Ar


Preface by Sami Zubaida ix Note on the transliteration of Arabic xiii Acknowledgements xv Introduction 1 Chapter One Language and culture under colonial rule 13 Chapter Two Politics, language and gender in post-independence Algeria 37 Political and economic development post-1962 41 Arabisation: ideology, practice and implications 56 Women in post-independence society: the symbolic use of women by the state and the left. 70 Chapter Three Alternative histories / gendered histories: a study of al-Laz 87 Chapter Four Synthesis from discord: Abdelhamid Benhadouga 129 Chapter Five Tahar Wattar: towards delirium, fantasy and allegory 163 Chapter Six Rachid Boudjedra: from accusation to accommodation 189 Chapter Seven Conclusions: critique and conformity 225 Appendix: Synopses of the novels 249 Bibliography 255 Index 271

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